Hand: These school stories are page-turners
If you know a teacher, you must get “Last Day Blues,” by Julie Danneberg, for them.
This is a hilarious look at the end of school, and I can attest to its truthfulness.
We join Mrs. Hartwell’s class as she takes attendance on the Monday of the last week of school. She looks at the class and states that she will miss them all. The kids look at one another and, one by one, tell who or what they will miss as well.
Everything from Dan missing the class snake, Daisy, to Joe missing chocolate milk and pizza is shared with us. At recess, the kids talk about the situation and decide that they need to get Mrs. Hartwell a present. The discussion begins.
It isn’t until Thursday afternoon that they agree on a large, poster-size farewell “card” with a poem, signed by all of them. Friday morning comes, and after the morning chores are done, the kids present their gift.
The children are convinced that the teachers are all going into deep Victorian mourning for them, and we watch the distraught teachers wave the buses away. The last two pages show the real story: The teachers doing a conga line down the hall.
“Totally Wonderful Miss Plumberry,” by Michael Rosen, is another look at the importance of a caring teacher.
We join Molly as she is setting off on a wonderful day with wonderful weather going to wonderful school. She is taking her crystal to school. This came from the rocks at the back of Grandma’s house over the water and far away. It is special to Molly.
When she gets to school, the kids like her crystal and are all excited about it. Then Russell comes running with a green and pink model stegosaurus, and the kids are all focused on that. Molly is crushed.
It is now a horrible day. She wants to go home. Miss Plumberry sees her and asks about the crystal. She calls all the kids together and Molly tells them about her treasure. Miss Plumberry praises it and talks about how it makes her feel. Miss Plumberry is the best totally wonderful teacher in the whole world.
I must have been a kid with moxie, because I don’t remember anyone even attempting to bully me, nor do I remember doing it to others. We did tease a lot, but I don’t recall anyone very upset.
“Bullying and Me: Schoolyard Stories,” collected by Ouisie Shapiro, presents stories by actual kids about bullying. Each story is also accompanied by advice from Dr. Dorothy Espelage.
This would be an outstanding class project to read and discuss. The stories are matter-of-fact and realistic.
Bullying is a serious problem with no easy solution. As is mentioned several times, bullies are clever at only doing it when adults are not around. It’s hard to respond and not get into trouble yourself.
Some of the stories are about kids who watched and did nothing or who bullied and now are sorry. Different reasons are given in the examples as well.
Luci Hand is a retired school principal who lives in Porter County. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.